Thursday, July 09, 2009

Does United Airlines Really Hear Opine?:: Breaking Guitars and Tweets from Afar

In a story all over morning TV, a Halifax {Nova Scotia} country band, Sons of Maxwell, has posted a video of protest song of a different kind. It's a customer complaint letter to United, after normal channels seemingly failed. The CBC reports::
"The $3,500 Taylor acoustic guitar had been custom-made and was packed in a padded double case, but United refused to take responsibility. Carroll sent emails, wrote letters and talked to people at the airline over nine months until a Chicago employee told him to stop sending emails because he wasn't going to get compensation"

The video was posted on YouTube on Monday and soon went viral. The LA Times reported that within less than a day, it received 461 comments on YouTube and was featured on The Consumerist on Tuesday. The comment tally {Thursday AM at 9:45 EDT} is now 3,385 and there are 466,539 views on YouTube. Many comments are in support of bashing United for various customer service failings. Looking at United's customer service numbers on the ACSI, none of this is surprising, but these reactions in social media might be to United's management.

The story behind the song is here and today's tweets by Dave Carroll are all about media coverage and interviews he's granting. United Airlines is on Twitter, but not doing a great job of managing the situation. I'm seeing canned responses like, "This has struck a chord w/ us and we've contacted him directly to make it right," and defensiveness. I get a sense that Web 2.0 has caught United by surprise and they're still struggling to figure out how to have real conversations with its publics.

I'm curious how this will affect Sons of Maxwell music sales.

Twitterversion:: UnitedAirlines Breaks Guitars goes viral. United, already with low CustSat seems caught off guard by Web2.0 #Rhizomicomm

Song:: Steve Miller Band - Jet Airliner

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